BMW ActiveE Getting an Electrically Streamlined Home

Luke Vandezande
by Luke Vandezande

Coming to grips with the taxing nature EVs can have on a residential power grid is causing some car companies to explore products more akin to the housing market than the auto industry.

BMW is the latest company to announce special plans and research designed to counteract that burden by rethinking how homes use electricity. The German automaker expects to have a demo home as part of their Mountain View, Calif. technology office, completed by the end of March.

The home is designed to efficiently charge their EV, the ActiveE, which is a variation on their 1-Series while maintaining flexible power consumption to compensate for increased consumption during charging times.

Toyota introduced something similar in October, 2010 called the Toyota Smart Center, which they said would be commercially available in 2015… Do you love your Camry enough to let the same person style both your car and home? In Japan, Nissan built a demo house called Kan-kan-kyo for the same purpose.

As for BMW, they’ve paired up with Tendril, an energy management company that is helping provide data to fully examine how an EV changes household power consumption.

“We’re keen to understand how utilities will gain benefit from a program like this,” Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck said to the New York Times. “The car guys don’t want to have 3,000 relationships with all the different utilities.”

Tuck also said that even a small number of EVs charging at once could actually create demand peaks. While we’re still a long way off from having electric vehicles in every driveway, or even more than a handful per city, it could feasibly create a problem.

The auto industry is not known for sharing ideas between competitors, in fact that behavior routinely rips contracts between car companies to shreds, but keep your eye out for some serious copy cat strategy down the road.

Chevrolet is offering Volt owners a service via their OnStar system and a smartphone app that will show sources of renewable energy. That sort of power is at its peak availability during otherwise off-peak hours, encouraging Volt owners to charge off-peak.

Perhaps a similar service will be available in the future from other companies as well. For now, there are only 700 BMW ActiveEs available by lease, so it seems unlikely that they will actually market streamlined home services any time soon.


[Source: New York Times]

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